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Takeaway Tuesday #TNF Edition: Awuzie Killed It, Running Game Is Back

Mauricio Rodriguez

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For the second consecutive week, the Dallas Cowboys played football on Thursday, meaning that we get to have a special edition of Takeaway Tuesday, on Saturday. Also, for the first time in four weeks, we've got victory takeaways. How 'bout them Cowboys!

The Washington Redskins are slowly forgetting how it feels to beat the Cowboys, after they were defeated last Thursday with a 38-14 scoreboard. Just when all Cowboys fans were throwing in the towel, Garrett's team gave us a tiny bit of hope.

Obviously, the road ahead is not easy. However, this Cowboys team showed us a few things that are pretty promising. Here are this week's takeaways!

Chidobe Awuzie Will Be Good

Is Chidobe Awuzie Already The Cowboys Best CB?Finally, we got to see Chidobe Awuzie play football. After Anthony Brown was demoted, Awuzie got to start at left cornerback and he did a remarkable job versus the Redskins. We all wanted to see good things out of the second-round pick who's been dealing with a hamstring injury all year.

Well, we got something. Awuzie was amazing and he proved that he should remain the starter going forward.

Awuzie got to play in more than 88% of the defensive snaps, per Pro Football Reference. Although his stats aren't off the charts, his coverage was amazing and we should give him a lot of credit for what seemed like an improvement in the secondary.

I like the idea of a Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie CB duo for the future, and I bet receivers won't be happy to know they'll be facing these two guys in years to come.

Cowboys' Running Game Is Back 

A big reason why the Cowboys were losing games, is the absence of Ezekiel Elliott. Truth be told, it really was starting to feel like we had overrated the back-up RB committee that Dallas has.

DMC was ultimately cut, and between Alfred Morris and Rod Smith, things weren't going as planned. But for the first time without Zeke, the Cowboys were able to put together a solid running game.

Cowboys en Español: Dallas Se Mantiene Con Vida, ¿Qué Cambió? 2

Since the suspension began, I've been one of those guys who wants Rod Smith to get more and more carries. However, right now, Morris complicated things for Jaylon's brother. I still wish Smith gets more carries and a chance to shine as Zeke's future back-up, but Morris made his case this Thursday and there's no reason to expect a change at RB anytime soon.

Naturally, the offensive line deserves a lot of credit for taking it to another level and dominating Washington's front seven play after play. This might've been La'el Collins and Tyron Smith's best games of the season.


Kavon Frazier Could Become a Constant Contributor

Cowboys Training Camp: 5 Fringe Players Fans Should Follow

Dallas Cowboys S Kavon Frazier Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Kavon Frazier has been outstanding on special teams all season long, and his name has stood out a couple of times. But last Thursday, Frazier shined on defense as well. He was only on the field for 21 defensive snaps, but he clearly made a difference more than a few times.

This coaching staff probably saw the same thing we did, and that's Frazier balling out.

I wonder if the Cowboys will be willing to give him a chance during future games to prove himself. What if he actually does a good job at safety and he gives a player like Byron Jones the opportunity to play at CB and improve the secondary?

At the very least, Frazier will continue to be one of the team's most valuable players on special teams.

Anthony Hitchens Is a Very Good LB

Anthony Hitchens 1

Dallas Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Cowboys' defense has clearly suffered every game missed by Sean Lee. However, Anthony Hitchens himself has become into another great football player for the Dallas Cowboys.

Yeah, Lee is out, but without Hitchens I can guarantee to you, that it could've been worse. Hitchens has done a nice job holding this defense together and I expect him to continue doing do.

This is the last year on Hitchens' contract and I'd be astonished if the front office doesn't re-sing him in the offseason. Dallas could have a very special group of guys with Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, Anthony Hitchens and possibly, a LB taken in the first rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Cowboys Got The Confidence Boost They Needed

The Cowboys' road to the playoffs is more than tough. They put themselves in a position where it isn't only up to them, but some other teams have to lose to keep their hopes alive. However, perspective changes when you stop getting blown out every game.

Dak Prescott and company have a unique chance to take advantage of the confidence boost they got in this week's game. Next time they take the field, they'll be taking on a Giants team that will probably be playing a QB not named "Eli Manning."

The Cowboys do have tough games versus the Raiders, the Seahawks and possibly the Eagles (even though they might be playing with back-ups only when the time comes around in week 17).

But, for now, let's focus on getting four wins in four weeks. Hope dies last... let's go Cowboys!

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday #TNF Edition: Awuzie Killed It, Running Game Is Back" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @MauNFL.

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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: DeMarcus Lawrence Silences Doubters vs Eagles

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: DeMarcus Lawrence Silences Doubters vs Eagles

Dallas Cowboys fans should be happy about the change of pace in the conversation surrounding America's Team. A week ago, the talk in Cowboys Nation was all about just how hot was Jason Garrett's seat. Three consecutive losses will do that to most fan bases. Fortunately, though, we can put a pin on that conversation for a while after the Cowboys handily defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 37-10 last Sunday Night.

It was a great team performance all around, but we should dive in to the specifics. Overall, it was a good win to claim the NFC East division lead as the Cowboys get ready to rest this upcoming bye week. Let's get to this week's takeaways!

Ezekiel Elliott Played His Best Game of the Year

The way Ezekiel Elliott ran versus the Eagles' defense reminded me of his rookie season. Elliott has had a pretty good season even though the Cowboys haven't leaned as much on the running game as they had the last few seasons.

Last Sunday, he accounted for 111 rushing yards and 36 receiving yards. But it wasn't about his total yardage. What was special was the way he juked defenders, broke tackles and fought for the dirty yards.

https://twitter.com/NFL/status/1186281141289934848

There was a fire about #21 and I'm sure Cowboys Nation is just as excited as I am to watch it. He truly was something versus the Eagles.

Mauricio Rodriguez ✭ on Twitter

Ezekiel Elliott's best game of the season BY FAR. Look at this chart from Next Gen Stats. Green lines mean 5+ yards gained or touchdown.

Not to mention, Elliott was extremely effective as he found multiple ways to have 5+ yard run after 5+ yard run. Simply put, an impressive performance from the Cowboys superstar running back.

DeMarcus Lawrence Silenced Doubters

I don't know if it was his huge contract that turned many fans against DeMarcus Lawrence early in the season, but the Cowboys' defensive end managed to silence doubters against the Eagles. On his way to one sack and one forced fumble, Lawrence dominated in the trenches.

He was solid versus the run and kept pressuring Carson Wentz all game long.


The Checkdown on Twitter

DeMarcus Lawrence coming in HOT 🔥🔥 @TankLawrence https://t.co/m0QPSnJgOK

The truth is that D-Law has played well this offseason, but constant double-teams and the lack help from the interior defensive linemen have kept his box score stats down. However, when you look at more advanced metrics such as pass-rush productivity, you'll notice Lawrence is still playing at a very high level.

His play versus the Eagles proved that to many fans watching at home.

I was intrigued by the Cowboys lining him up against the Eagles' LT, trying to exploit the fact that Jason Peters was out injured. I wonder if Rod Marinelli continues to look for favorable match-ups in the future and keeps moving him around occasionally.

Amari Cooper Continues to Feast on the Philadelphia Eagles 2

Amari Cooper is Fine

After Amari Cooper's quad injury against the New York Jets, reports emerged on him being in "terrible pain." Many doubted he'd even play against the Philadelphia Eagles but he did, along other key players who were dealing with injuries too. In his return to the field, Cooper led the Cowboys receiving core with 106 yards in only five receptions (five targets).

Once again, his route running was on full display. He managed to burn a secondary that has been far from great this year. The Cowboys needed him to show up, and he delivered. He even caught a 44 yard pass when he absolutely destroyed Eagles DB Rasul Douglas on a double-move. Cooper would also have a diving jaw-dropping catch later in the game.

It's fair to assume he's healthy and ready to go for the rest of the season.

Cowboys Run Defense Still an Issue

Takeaways and a strong defensive performance against the pass secured the win for the Cowboys, but the run defense continues to be a problem for Rod Marinelli's unit. The Eagles running backs combined for 103 rushing yards and Dallas was beaten in the trenches a handful of times on this game.

The linebackers looked drastically better, and Leighton Vander Esch had his best half this season so far. Fortunately, it seems like his injury isn't serious enough for him to miss any additional playing time.

However, there were a handful of plays in which the Cowboys' defensive tackles were pushed around again. If I had to choose one position to upgrade, I wouldn't hesitate to address the interior defensive line. It's a problem.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: DeMarcus Lawrence Silences Doubters vs Eagles" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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Game Notes

This Defensive Drive Sealed the Game for the Dallas Cowboys

John Williams

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This Defensive Drive Sealed the Game for the Dallas Cowboys 3

Things couldn't have started off any better for a Dallas Cowboys team that was desperately in need of a fast start in this pivotal week seven matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles. In the midst of a three-game losing streak, tied atop the NFC East at 3-3 with the Eagles, and hosting their division rival on Sunday Night Football, the Cowboys needed to put their best foot forward early in this game.

After a couple of fumbles recovered by the Dallas defense, the Cowboys jumped out to a 14-0 lead by the midway point of the first quarter. In a two-score hole early in this contest, the Philadelphia Eagles came out guns blazing on their third offensive series of the game and marched right down the field in seven plays, aided by a couple of personal foul calls, and brought the game to within a score.

At 14-7, the Dallas Cowboys offense was then forced to punt on the ensuing drive setting the Philadelphia Eagles up with an opportunity to tie the game in the second quarter if they were able to put a drive together. Getting the score even in the first half after pretty much gifting the Cowboys with a two-touchdown lead early would be a huge momentum swing in the game and provide the Eagles with a ton of confidence.

The Dallas Cowboys defense, however, wouldn't allow that to happen.

With the Eagles pinned back on their own 10-yard line after a Chris Jones punt, the Dallas Cowboys defense went to work with some excellent team defense and individual open field tackling performances on three plays that led to a Philadelphia Eagles three and out.

On first and 10 from their own 10-yard line, the Eagles attempted to run Jordan Howard through the right side of the line. There was nowhere to go on the play as Maliek Collins got excellent penetration into the left "A gap" making first contact behind the line of scrimmage and getting an assist from DeMarcus Lawrence to finish off the run stop for just a one-yard gain.

This Defensive Drive Sealed the Game for the Dallas Cowboys 2With a failed first-down run, the Eagles were set up with a 2nd and 9 at their own 11-yard line for the first play of the second quarter. Here they run Jordan Howard off of left tackle on a shotgun sweep handoff and he's able to pick up a nice bit of yardage to set up 3rd and 4.


This Defensive Drive Sealed the Game for the Dallas Cowboys 1To me, this was a huge third-down play for the Dallas Cowboys defense. On their previous drive, they had just given up a touchdown and needed to find a way to get of the field. If the Eagles are able to pick this up, it continues to put pressure on the defense and Philadelphia has some momentum.

Needing just four yards for the first down, the Eagles had both run and pass options at their disposal. As the Eagles are in have a tight bunch on the left side, the Cowboys have seven into the box to face six blockers, including the tight end who has a wider than normal split from the left tackle. Jeff Heath is the seventh man and on the snap is able to remain untouched as Carson Wentz hands off to Miles Sanders and snakes his way through the mass of humanity to stop the running back just shy of the first down.

This Defensive Drive Sealed the Game for the Dallas CowboysThey had the play fairly well blocked, but nobody accounts for Heath who is able to stay clean and track down Miles Sanders before he's able to get to the first down marker.

In a game that had a ton of highlights, this was a play that may go unnoticed when people talk about the outcome of this game but was huge given the current game situation. The Dallas Cowboys needed to get a stop on defense.

The Philadelphia Eagles attempted to attack the Dallas Cowboys' defense on the ground on this drive, which has been an area of vulnerability for the Cowboys in 2019. Their attempt to ground and pound in order to gain some momentum and reassert themselves in the game didn't come to fruition because the Cowboys defenders rallied well to the football on three straight running plays. The Dallas Cowboys turned a weakness into a strength on this drive and did their part to help the offense put the game away early.

After forcing the three and out, something the Dallas Cowboys defense doesn't do a lot of this year, the offense was able to take the ball and go on a 12 play, 71-yard drive for a touchdown that took nearly seven minutes off the clock. The Cowboys were able to go up two touchdowns again on their division rival and pretty much put the game out of reach, but it wouldn't have been so had the defense not stepped up and forced the three and out on this early second-quarter drive.

The defense played arguably their best game of the season on Sunday Night Football on a night where they desperately needed to play their best game of the year. There are still nine games to go and have a pretty rough seven-game stretch coming out of the bye starting with another divisional matchup on the road against the New York Giants in week nine. If the Dallas Cowboys defense can show this kind of consistency against the run moving forward, they'll be very difficult to beat.


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The Brady Report: Cowboys’ Fast Start Dooms Eagles

Kevin Brady

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The Brady Report: Cowboys' Fast Start Dooms Eagles

It's been nothing but doom and gloom around the Dallas Cowboys in recent weeks. After a 3-0 start propelled them towards the top of the league's elite, three straight disappointing losses had fans wondering if it was time for a regime change at head coach.

They went into Sunday night's game with the Eagles needing a win to salvage hope at earning a playoff spot, and boy did they answer the bell. The Cowboys dominated the Philadelphia Eagles from the opening snap, routing their hated rivals 37-10 and improving to 4-3 on the season.


Let's get into my game notes from this overwhelmingly positive performance.

  • Let's start with the quarterback. Dak Prescott was tremendous yet again on Sunday night, and we're getting to the point where his sample size of positive play is too large to ignore. Prescott was 21 of 27 for 239 yards and a touchdown (and an interception as well), but he also had a rushing touchdown to add to his totals. Prescott has complete control of the offense, and even checked out of a negative box count to exploit the Eagles blitz look down in the red zone. He leads the league in QBR this season, and he is the unquestioned franchise quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. As he should be.
  • Sticking with praise on offense, Ezekiel Elliott looked like Zeke on Sunday night. From his very first carry you could tell Elliott was running with a different burst and energy than we'd seen in recent weeks, and he later ran right over Malcolm Jenkins to set up the team's second score of the game. Elliott was impossible to bring down all night, to the tune of 111 yards and a touchdown on 5 yards per carry.
  • La'el Collins has been incredible this season, and Sunday was no different. The Cowboys recently extended right tackle shut Brandon Graham down for basically the entire night, and kept Prescott upright and comfortable in the pocket. Tyron Smith was clearly not healthy or himself on the other side, but the rest of this offensive line picked up the slack and had their best performance since the season opener.
  • Connor Williams deserves a shoutout as well. He was getting off double teams to the second level and cutting linebackers off to clear rushing lanes for Zeke all night long.
  • Defensively, the Cowboys had their best performance of 2019. They hadn't been able to force turnovers all season, but they came away with four in this week's win. Xavier Woods' interception of Wentz might've spoken the loudest, as it proved how good this defense can be when the game script is working in their favor. When things go according to plan early for this team, they have the talent to take total control and dominate.
  • Jourdan Lewis was inserted into the starting lineup due to injury, and he was awesome from the opening snap. Lewis came away with a big sack on Caron Wentz and had 4 tackles overall as well. Byron Jones returned from the injury he suffered a week ago, and was back to his old shutdown ways. Jones is clearly the best cornerback on this team, and is one of the better corners in all of football. When he's healthy and playing as he did during Sunday's win, few have an argument over him.
  • DeMarcus Lawrence also had his best game of 2019, creating consistent pressure on Wentz throughout the night. His biggest play, of course, was his sack fumble which set the Cowboys up for a 14-0 lead just two possessions into the game. Lawrence has been taking a lot of heat from the fanbase in recent weeks, but he responded in a big way on Sunday.
  • Those are the linebackers I remember from 2018. Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch were all over the field during this game, and Sean Lee had a pretty nice game as well once Vander Esch went down. Lee and Smith each finished with 7 tackles, and Smith forced the Eagles' first fumble of the night on their opening drive. Lee made a nice play on the ball on a late fourth down throw that easily could've been an interception as well.


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